March 30, 2023

Lately I feel like all I have been talking or thinking about has been graduation. To be fair, though, that seems to be all anyone has been asking me lately. “What will you be doing after you graduate?”

For the longest time, every time someone asked me that question I would choke down the panic and respond I was going to start looking for jobs closer to when I actually get the degree, or I would give a vague answer about a potential job offer I had been given. Changing the subject and asking them what they were doing with their lives seemed to be the better conversation to have.

I understand people who know and care about me, especially the ones who have seen me transition from an awkwardly ambitious preteen to an annoyingly ambitious 20-year-old, want to know all the hard work and investment will have paid off. I know they care and want to ensure my happiness.

I truly don’t understand why I have gotten so many weird looks now that I finally know what I will be doing immediately upon graduation, which is moving to Florida to take a five-month internship with The Walt Disney Co. at Walt Disney World. Not even my enthusiastic “I’m going to work for The Mouse!” exclamation is garnering any pity laughter.

What I have learned in the past month since finally hearing back from a company I have wished to work for my whole life is that people, even the ones who care about you, take everything at face value. They hear Disney and they automatically think I am throwing my education, my journalism degree and thousands of dollars away. In fact, they hear anything other than the words “journalist,” “reporter” or “newspaper” and automatically I have become some sort of monumental failure in their eyes.

It doesn’t matter that Forbes just named The Walt Disney Co. No. 9 in its list of “The 20 Most Prestigious Internships for 2017,” right up there with Google, Apple and Facebook. It doesn’t matter that Disney is ranked one of the most powerful conglomerates in the world, or that it is a Fortune 500 company. It doesn’t matter that networking within the company is attainable and encouraged. It doesn’t matter that Disney owns ABC and ESPN, two of the largest media networks in the nation.

It doesn’t matter, because at face value, I am not stepping into a TV station to get in front of the camera as an anchor or hopping out into the field with my backpack and a recorder.

This is not to say any of my professors in school have dissuaded me from going. In fact, all have been more than supportive of my choice.

What some other people don’t understand, however, is you are allowed to take time for yourself when you graduate. You are allowed to immediately go into the workforce, or travel, or write a book, or work a minimum-wage job. You are allowed to start with an internship or a lower-level job at your dream company if you have the potential of working your way up.

If you have a viable means to pay your bills, go be happy and do what you want. You don’t need that “adult” job now, and people don’t need to be negatively predisposed to think ill of that fact.

So for anyone who is feeling like being a little adventurous once that diploma hits the palm of his or her hand, take it and run with it and don’t look back at the naysayers who may shake their heads and tell you to take your head out of the sand or out of the clouds.

As for me? I have my reasons. I did my research. I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide I wanted to work for The Mouse. My education taught me to be a little bit smarter than that.

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